First mention of Le Cannet
The earliest mention of Le Cannet figures on a legal document dating back to the 19th of January, 1281. In it, the head of the Lérins abbey granted a plot of land located ad Cannetum in perpetual emphyteusis to Olivier Isnard, a Mougins bourgeois. This territory, with its rather vague boundaries, was said to belong to Mougins at the time. It was later absorbed into the territory of Cannes.



First families
Following a dramatic fall in population during the reign of Queen Jeanne due to the effects of the plague, wars and pillaging, there was an increase in actes d'habitation (real estate contracts) registered in eastern Provence. These emphyteutic lease holds were mainly made with people originating from the Genoa river area. The aim was to repopulate deserted villages and exploit the land that had been abandoned.

The first acte d'habitation of Le Cannet dates back to the 5th of February, 1441. In it, Dom André de Plaisance, head of the Lérins hospital, granted several pieces of land emphyteutically to Sylvestre Calvy, a tanner from Val d'Oneille in Liguria. This contract is considered to be the foundation stone that led to the construction of a permanent settlement. The Calvy family, the first to settle in Le Cannet, then brought in more settlers from Val d'Oneille, known as "Figons" by the inhabitants.



Creation of the parish
By the end of the 16th century, these family communities had formed a dozen hamlets bearing the names of their founders: the Ardissons, the Calvys, the Cavasses, the Danys, the Gallous, the Gourrins, the Perrissols, the Michels, the Gazans.

In 1556, 73 Cannet household heads gathered in front of the newly constructed Ste Catherine's church to request the creation of a parish. This was finally obtained in 1560, date of the first baptism to be recorded in the Cannet parish record. The parish church helped to unite these isolated and widely spread habitations.



Creation of the commune of Le Cannet
The request for parish autonomy held within it the seeds of future conflicts with Cannes. Everything separated these two towns: distance, way of life and mentality. The 1587 judgement by the bishop of Fréjus gave the Cannettans ample satisfaction since they were granted the same privileges, freedoms and rights as the Cannois. Nevertheless, the causes of discontent were not resolved and conflicts continued. In 1730 a first attempt at a separation from Cannes was made. The Cannettans invoked four reasons: territory, administration, finances and social differences. It was only after centuries of quarrels and legal battles, that Le Cannet finally obtained its independence when, on the 29th of January, 1777, the Provence parliament registered by letters patent the edict of the King's Council of State of the 9th of August, 1774.



Development of Le Cannet
Having become a municipality, Le Cannet sought to grow at the expense of Mougins. During the revolution, the inhabitants drafted an unsuccessful proposal to obtain the breaking up of part of the land that was occupied and exploited by forains (non-resident owners). The coveted land was situated on the periphery of the village, in upper vieux-Cannet. In 1826, Le Cannet belonged to the Var department and was its smallest village, covering 439 hectares, and at the same time its most populous, with 1591 inhabitants.

Finally a law of 22nd of January, 1854, put an end to the disputes and years of legal battle. The new boundaries were established on the basis of an exchange. Le Cannet benefited from a substantial territorial expansion and absorbed the Ranguin district of Cannes. The town thus grew from 440 hectares to 770 hectares.



Birth of the Lime Kiln
Until the end of the 19th century, all the land to the west of the town was covered in pine trees, with many sheep pens. From 1880 onwards, the Lime Kiln neighbourhood was considered a lieu-dit "consisting of a cluster of workers' houses associated with the quarries and other industries". The Lime Kiln then represented a residential area located along the Grasse road. The "archway house" built in the heart of this neighbourhood in 1883 embodied its identity. With the arrival of the Italians in the 30's, the town experienced an unprecedented demographic growth. At the request of the inhabitants, the name Lime Kiln - too reminiscent of the quarries - was abandoned. It was replaced by Rocheville, a name more in harmony with the "smartness of the neighbourhood".



Access development: Le Cannet, a new winter resort
Whereas Cannes and Nice had already been launched by the Russians and the English, Le Cannet was lagging behind, mainly because of difficult access. At the time, the town was only accessible via a few narrow paths: rue Ste Catherine, rue de Cannes and to the west le Notre Dame des Anges path. The transformation of Le Cannet was the work of Henri Germain, the founder of the Crédit Lyonnais. He was considered the first big promoter of the Côte d'Azur. From 1880 to 1883 he commissioned the construction of a large road connecting Cannes and Le Cannet, as well as a modern network of adjacent roads. It bore the name of Boulevard de la Foncière before being renamed Boulevard Carnot in 1894. The installation of the tramway was the final step in opening up access to the town. These road improvements contributed to Le Cannet's success as a winter resort. The French and foreign grande bourgeoisie were rapidly won over by the charm of Le Cannet and its assets thus brought to the fore.



The perfume industry
The extremely developed olive oil industry (24 oil mills in 1855) was to be supplemented by floral horticulture at the beginning of the 19th century. These two industries were mainly held by the Sardou families. The town specialised in the production of flowering orange trees, providing raw material for the perfume and distilling industries. The town's exposure (sheltered and sunny) is favourable for floral horticulture, sustained by the growth of the perfume industry in Grasse. Three perfumers are recorded in the land register of 1777 and 16 perfumers-distillers in 1900. This industry started to decline after the Second World War. The farms of the Lime Kiln district -which started to develop around the end of the 19th century - mainly specialised in growing vegetables.



Cannet starts attracting artists
The town became so famous that many artists came to settle here. Although Renoir only stayed here for a short time at Villa Printemps from February 1902, before setting up in Cagnes, Lebasque came and settled in Le Cannet in 1924. Having discovered the Midi thanks to his friend Henri Manguin, he led a quiet and withdrawn existence in Le Cannet. He participated with Pierre Bonnard in the1st Le Cannet artists' salon. Henri Lebasque died in Le Cannet on the 7th of august 1937.


February 1926

Pierre Bonnard settles in Le Cannet
After several stays in Le Cannet from 1922 to 1926, painter Pierre Bonnard bought a modest chalet-style house which he christened "Le Bosquet". He settled there in 1927 after having made a few arrangements to the house. He produced close to 300 paintings there which have entered into the history of art. Displayed in the world's greatest museums, many represent Le Cannet landscapes. Bonnard died at Le Bosquet on the 23rd of January 1947 and was buried in the cemetery of Notre-Dame des Anges next to his wife Marthe, who had passed away in 1942.



The Hôtel des Anges, current Town Hall
Victor Joachim Gassier was born in Barcelonette (in the Southern Alps) and made his fortune in Mexico. At the beginning of the 20th century, he carried out a series of real estate transactions in Le Cannet. Shortly after the construction of his house Villa Les Mimosas, he commissioned, in 1902, the building of the Hôtel des Anges, on an adjacent plot he had bought from the Société Foncière Lyonnaise. The plans of the house were drawn by architect James Warnery, who worked on behalf of the Barcelonnettes (immigrants originating from Ubaye) implanted on the Côte d'Azur. The building, with its use of mosaics on the façade, is typical of the time. The hotel was bought by the town in 1933 by the Mayor Maurice Jeanpierre who wished to provide his expanding town with a town hall worthy of its reputation.



A difficult time for the Cannettans
During the war, the inhabitants suffered a great deal from food shortages due to difficulties in obtaining supplies. But this period was likely even harder for the many Italians settled in the town as they underwent first the Italian occupation, and then the German one. Demonstrations of hostility towards the occupying forces soon emerged. "An inscription of Gaullist propaganda" was discovered in the Ponchude neighbourhood in 1941. "The authors of this misdeed were never found". In a 1942 police report regarding the population's state of mind, the Commissaire observed that "part of the population manifests a certain repugnance at the thought of close collaboration with the occupying forces". The police station was established at the St Vianney hotel, the present Bonnard museum, from 1943 to 1947.

After the Provence assault, the bombings became more and more frequent, but the town had access to many underground shelters in various districts. Although the town never suffered a direct confrontation with the enemy during the liberation period, it sustained material losses, mainly in the districts of Moulières and l'Olivet. Mayor Maurice Jeanpierre paid a high price for his resistance to the enemy: arrested by the Nazis, he died in deportation.



Network modernisation and increase in population
It was in the 1960's that the town began to improve its urban amenities. Public electric lighting and sanitation were gradually implemented. The drinking water systems were the last to be added, to the general satisfaction of the population. The inhabitants had been waiting a long time for this improvement, as water quality had become a public health issue.

At the same time the population of Le Cannet kept increasing as the town expanded eastwards - with the Mimosas commercial zone -, in the Aubarède sector, and westwards. The town grew to have one of the highest densities of the department.